Monday, March 5, 2012
Discourse vs. Deception
It seems like an eternity has passed since then-prospective presidential candidate Governor Mitch Daniels was calling for a “truce” on social issues so that conservatives and liberals could unite to focus on much-needed economic and entitlement reforms. Even the last faint dying glimmers of hope for such a truce are now gone. In recent weeks, the Obama Administration and its allies have launched an all-out attack on religious freedom and especially the Catholic Church. Worse still, liberals are employing shockingly dishonest tactics to advance their radical agenda.
Sandra Fluke has emerged as the standard-bearer of the Obama Administration’s push for “free” (i.e., government-mandated and employer-funded) birth control, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs. Initial media reports identified her as a 23-year-old law student at Georgetown University, but a look at her online profile at LinkedIn reveals that she is actually a 30-something agitator for something called “reproductive justice” and has a lengthy résumé of feminist organizations.
Furthermore, when Ms. Fluke decided to attend Georgetown University, she did so precisely because she knew that, as a Catholic institution, they would not cover the cost of her contraceptives and thus she could use her opposition to the Church’s teachings and longstanding university policy as a means to advance her personal political agenda and her career. According to a friendly biographical piece at the Washington Post, she has been lobbying the school to sacrifice its beliefs in favor of her own from the moment of her matriculation, even before the HHS contraceptive mandate was a twinkle in Obama’s eye.
In another instance, the New York Daily News reported that Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her mother’s funeral because she happens to be a lesbian. The mainstream media did not report that she approached the priest before the Mass and introduced him to her lesbian lover which prompted the priest to tell her that he could not in good conscience give her the Eucharist. Nevertheless, she insisted on approaching the altar anyway and then later complained to the press about her supposed “ill-treatment” when the priest again refused. Predictably, the liberal response was outrage that the priest could be so insensitive.
However, a quick glance at the Facebook and Twitter pages of her art school (for children!) reveals a series of pro-abortion and pro-homosexual links which are clearly and explicitly at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. A small sampling is reproduced nearby. Ms. Johnson is entitled to her beliefs, but instead of also respecting the beliefs of her dead mother and the congregation at her mother’s parish, Ms. Johnson crassly used the occasion of her mother’s death to advance her personal political agenda. Just as in the case of Ms. Fluke, the timing of this incident is suspicious, as Maryland passed a gay marriage bill the same day the story broke.
The liberal narrative is that the Catholic Church is oppressing women, but the truth is that radical liberals who do not believe in the Church’s teachings are manufacturing controversy with the help of manipulative media elites. The freedom of religion is inextricably linked to the freedoms of speech, expression, and even thought itself. More importantly, for people who disagree with the Catholic Church’s teachings, the freedom of religion gives each of us the right to not believe. Nobody is compelling anyone to ascribe or adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church—or any church.
These small deceptions are part of a bigger lie. Whenever conservatives oppose government mandates and taxpayer funding for policies which violate their consciences, it is a liberal cliché that conservatives are trying to ban those things outright. The freedom of religion gives us the right to believe or to not believe, but the freedom of religion also gives us the right to do what we believe or to not do what we do not believe. In these two cases especially, one doesn’t have to agree with the Catholic Church on contraception and homosexuality to respect faithful Catholics who do not want to engage in or support these behaviors.
Winston Churchill once said that, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” President Obama’s liberal allies in the media and elsewhere have taken that maxim and stood it on its head. The American people are not at war with their government. We deserve a basic level of honesty in public discourse. Especially when it comes to something as fundamental as the freedom of religion, the truth should be able to stand on its own. If liberals have to resort to deception to make their case before the public, it only underscores the weakness of their cause.